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Wrestling Legend And WWE Hall of Famer ‘The American Dream’ Dusty Rhodes Dead At 69

R.I.P. Dusty Rhodes. You will be missed.



On Thursday, the wrestling world lost a legend when “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes passed away at the age of 69. Details of the death are unknown except for the fact that paramedics were called to his home after he suffered a fall.

Rhodes, born Virgil Runnels Jr., started his career wrestling as part of a tag team with Dick Murdoch in the American Wrestling Association (AWA). He later moved on to the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and their Florida territory where he turned into a popular “babyface” character after turning on his partner and legendary bad guy manager Gary Hart. “The American Dream” moniker was created while in Florida where Rhodes took on an everyman character and gained notoriety around other NWA territories around the country.

After leaving Florida, Rhodes moved onto Jim Crockett Promotions which later turned into World Championship Wrestling (WCW). While in the JCP, he became head booker of the promotion and created some of the biggest shows such as Starrcade and some of the biggest matches such as the War Games. He won the NWA World Title twice during his time with Crockett in addition to his first reign while with the Championship Wrestling from Florida promotion.

After being fired by the new corporate WCW, Rhodes went on to compete in the WWF in 1989. Many saw his tenure “up north” as a joke with many seeing Rhodes in polka dot tights and dancing around the ring not the way a legend such as Rhodes should have been treated. His time with the WWF made Rhodes a household name with another segment of the wrestling audience who may not have watched WCW before his arrival in the WWF. His time in the WWF lasted until 1991 when he returned home to WCW.

Back in WCW, Rhodes was on the booking committee for the company but was eventually reduced to just a television announcer at the backend of his career. His career took an odd turn when he turned his back on the company he helped build to become a member of the NWO in 1998. He would accompany Scott Hall to the ring but not have much else to do with the company until its closing in 2001.

Rhodes bounced around after the closing of WCW and eventually worked for Total Nonstop Action (TNA) from 2003-2005 as booker and writer of their television program. After leaving TNA, Rhodes returned to the WWE where he worked until his death. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007 by his sons Dustin, who plays Goldust, and Cody, who plays Stardust. Since his return to the WWE, he was a driving force behind NXT, the WWE’s developmental system. NXT has begun to gain notoriety worldwide and is a show that many believe is better than WWE’s two main roster shows. Rhodes is a major part of that as he worked with much of the young talent on everything from in-ring technique to promo skill, something that Rhodes was a master at.

Rhodes was engaged is some of the biggest feuds in wrestling history against a who’s who of the wrestling business. His opponents included Ric Flair, The Road Warriors, Terry Funk, Kevin Sullivan and many others. While today’s feuds last for what seems like two minutes, Rhodes participated in some of the longest running feuds in wrestling history that were wars that often featured Rhodes bleeding to increase the violent and serious nature of the conflict. Not only could Rhodes sell in the ring but his promos are legendary in the industry. If you have not seen Dusty’s “Hard Times” promo, it is a must watch right now.

“The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes is a professional wrestling icon that help build wrestling into must-see TV in the 80’s. Rhodes was a national icon on Ted Turner’s TBS stations as millions tuned in at 6:05 p.m. on Saturdays to see engage in battles with The Four Horsemen weekly. Rhodes parlayed his success into his work with NXT and helped create the next batch of wrestling stars, teaching them the right way to work in the business.

R.I.P. Dusty Rhodes. You will be missed.

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Kahlil Thomas

Kahlil is the College Sports Editor for as well as a columnist, hosting the Bump 'N Run column once per week. He also co-hosts a weekly basketball podcast, The Box Out, every Thursday evening with fellow writer Jason Cordner.
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